Ohanaeze, Igbo influential group; Afenifere, Yoruba socio-political group; and Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) say they support former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s call for national dialogue to resolve insecurity and some other challenges facing Nigeria. Obasanjo had, in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, last Monday, raised the idea of the dialogue.
The former President had said: “In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity, stability, security, cooperation, development, growth and progress, there is no consensus.
“Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion, debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the issues and lead to rapid development, growth and progress which will give us a wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive and shared society.
It will be a national programme. “We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap that will not change with whims and caprices of any government. It must be owned by the citizens, people’s policy and strategy implemented by the government no matter its colour and leaning.
“Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.” Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it aligned with Obasanjo’s position.
According to the group, it indeed raised the same issue of insecurity as the former President did last weekend when it reacted to the killing of the daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Ruben Fasoranti, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin. It recalled that it advocated an emergency security summit over the problem, warning that failure to convene the discourse on the way out of Nigeria’s insecurity quagmire will still spell doom for the country.
Media Adviser to the President General of the apex Igbo group, Chief Emeka Attama, said, at the weekend: “Ohanaeze’s reaction is that this (Obasanjo’s letter) is in tandem with the views canvassed by its President General in a recent statement – a strident call for the convening of a national discourse on the way forward on the present security debacle. “This is the only step that can assuage the current situation.
It requires urgent action. We endorse his position absolutely. The sooner the better as things are really getting out of hand. Delay could spell doom for the country.” Another Igbo group, Ala-Igbo Development Foundation, ADF, supported the call for national conference at this juncture to look at fundamental issues bedevilling the country.
Spokesperson for ADF, Abia Onyike, said his group’s position was that it is either the proposed national conference sets agenda for the restructuring of the country or determines its division for the ethnic nationalities to go their separate ways. Onyike said, “ADF position is that we need to go back to restructure Nigeria into a federation or in the alternative the ethnic nationalities disintegrate either to form unions which is what is likely to happen. “Obasanjo called for a National Conference but the Senate is talking about security summit which cannot achieve anything because of the inherent problems of the 1999 Constitution.
“We are calling for a National Conference that will return powers to the autonomous nationalities and regions. The call for state police formations does not make meaning because of what exists now as the security architecture.” Spokesperson for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in the group’s reaction to the Obasanjo suggestion, said, “Afenifere believes in dialogue in all situations.
Our understanding of the summit Obasanjo is suggesting is not a National Conference but an assemblage of leaders to proffer solutions to the insecurity in the land. “The decisions they arrive at should then be tabled before a congress of representatives of all interest groups and social forces in Nigeria for discussions.
For and Against the All Progressives Congress (4)(Opens in a new browser tab) “All these should not be more than three days. We accept the recommendation as a veritable platform to steer Nigeria from the apparent anarchy that stares it in the face.
“It is the most patriotic suggestion for Nigeria in crisis”. For his part, the President of YCE, Col Dansaaki Agbede (ret.), advised Obasanjo to liaise with other stakeholders in the South-West and stop acting as a lone ranger.
Though he said his group is not opposed to organising another National Conference, Agbede felt rather uncomfortable with non-implementation of the recommendations of the previous conferences, especially the one organised during the time of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He believed the insecurity challenge stalking the nation cannot be resolved without combined efforts. “Obasanjo should use his elderly statesmanship to bring all Yoruba groups and leaders together.
Walking alone has limited advantages”, the YCE leader said. “We can only resolve the issue with collective efforts. YCE has been saying it since February that we in the South-West should brace up, face the onslaught and do the needful. “
On the call for the convocation of another conference, what happened to the previous conferences we had? “It all amounts to wasting our resources. Billions of naira was spent on the conference conducted by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Why not bring the recommendations out and let’s start from there? “So, it is not organising another conference that is the matter, what will happen to its recommendations? Will they see the light of the day? Will they not end up like population census? I have no objection to it but it must involve all groups.
“I only wonder why we talk of another conference now when nothing has been done concerning the previous ones. If the caliphate is against it, it will fizzle away. “Obasanjo should slow down and facilitate unity forum or platform for all Yoruba so that we can speak with one voice. “He should identify young groups which are around 34. How do you solve security issue with all these groups working at cross purposes?”
Lending his voice to the discourse, the Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Ethics in Development, Comrade Mashood Erubami, disagreed with Obasanjo, saying, “I don’t agree with him, we don’t need a new conference but the Federal Government and states should hold security meetings to discuss stability and how we can live together peacefully.
“It is not a kind of jamboree conference that Obasanjo is calling for. It should include labour unions, civil societies and the recommendations should be implemented within eight months”.
Awara Loses Appeal As Court Confirms Bello As AAC’s Counsel
The Court of Appeal has upheld the ruling of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal recognising Mr Henry Bello as the authentic counsel of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the appeal filed by the defeated Rivers State African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship Candidate, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara.
The defeated Rivers State African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship Candidate, Biokpomabo Awara through his counsel, Tawo Tawo (SAN), in suit number CA/PH/PHT/356/2019, urged the Court of Appeal to stop Henry Bello from representing the AAC in the governorship petition.
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Hamma Barka struck out the AAC interlocutory appeal on the ground that the appellant has no locus to file the appeal as he was no longer the counsel to AAC.
The Court of Appeal also ruled that the appeal filed by the defeated Rivers State AAC Governorship Candidate was incompetent, having been filed without prior leave of court.
The election petition appeal panel also awarded the sum of N50,000 in favour of counsel to AAC, Henry Bello.
The court noted that judgement of a court was sacrosanct, which all parties were bound to obey.
The court emphasised that AAC has the right to change its counsel based on the judgement of the Federal High Court which recognized Leonard Nzenwa as the national chairman of the party.
The court recognised counsel of the AAC, Henry Bello had filed a preliminary objection on the premise of Section 242 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), saying that the appeal was incompetent.
Counsel to INEC, Sir Steve Adave (SAN), said the decision of the Court of Appeal lays to rest the issue of representation in the suit filed by the defeated Rivers State AAC governorship candidate.
Counsel to the AAC, Henry Aleruchi of Henry Bello Chambers, said that the party had sacked Omoyele Sowore and elected Leonard Nzenwa, who subsequently appointed Henry Bello as the authentic counsel of the party.
He said that the ruling of the Court of Appeal was in consonance with the Constitution, which gives individuals the right to choose their counsel.
In a preliminary objection, Counsel to Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) argued that the appellant was not a person affected by the decision/ruling of the tribunal, and accordingly, has no locus standi or competence to appeal the judgment of the tribunal.
Ukala further argued that the appellant’s appeal has been mooted and rendered academic by subsequent events, including the striking out of the substantive appeal by the tribunal.
Mark Agwu, who spoke on behalf of Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), said that the ruling has proved that the appeal was a mere academic exercise and lacks merit.
“The genesis of the issue was that the petition was filed by the Chamber of Tawo E. Tawo representing both petitioners but in course of the proceedings, the AAC decided to debrief the Chambers of Tawo E. Tawo, and engage the Chambers of H.A. Bello to represent it. In the course of that, H.A. Bello fulfilled the condition upon which it can change its counsel.
‘After that, Tawo brought an application asking court to set aside the change of counsel filed by H.A. Bello. After hearing the argument, the tribunal came to the decision that the party deserves its right to engage counsel of its choice, and that is sacrosanct and nobody can change it.
‘We Stopped EFCC From Planting Foreign Currency In Ambode’s House’ …EFCC Denies Claim
Three lawyers who claimed to have witnessed EFCC’s raid on the Epe residence of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday, alleged that they stopped the anti-graft officials from “planting foreign currency” in the house.
The lawyers – Fatai Adebanjo, Busari Olanrewaju and Samson Okuneye – in a joint statement yesterday, said operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission wanted to stop them (lawyers) from being a part of the search.
They said the operatives allowed them into the house after they had engaged them in arguments.
The counsels added that the EFCC officers seized their phones before the tour of the house began.
In the statement, the lawyers said, “Before they entered, we searched all the officials of the EFCC who intended to go in for the search.
“There was a blue bag which they were holding with them.
“We requested to see the content of the bag before they could take it in.
“They got angry and said we could not see the content.
“Having said that, we strongly resisted them from taking it in since they would not allow us to see it; they later agreed.
“We later got to know that the bag contained foreign currency which they brought to plant in the house of the ex-governor to incriminate him.”
The lawyers noted that the operatives, while collecting their phones, had insisted that only one of their (EFCC) men would record the process with a phone.
They claimed that in the end, nothing incriminating was found in Ambode’s house except some documents, including the State Executive Exco Meetings Volumes 1-16.
The counsel explained that the anti-graft officers were stopped from taking the documents away because they refused to take records of the items.
“We followed them as they entered from one place to the other.
“When our presence was intimidating them, they said we should sit down while they do the search.
“We insisted that we must follow them to observe every of their activities on the premises.
“To our greatest consternation, the officials of the EFCC, led by Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq, held on to our phones and told us to follow them to their office in Ikoyi to get our phones.
“All efforts to get back our phones were abortive, as the officials rushed into their white Hiace bus with our phones and instructed that since we had resisted their efforts to take the said blue bag into the main premises of the ex-governor, they would hold on to the phones.
“Thus, almost six phones were forcefully taken away, iPhones inclusive,” the statement added.
The lawyers claimed that their presence throughout the search stopped the EFCC from incriminating Ambode “with the blue bag they brought with them from an unknown destination.”
They said they were ready to challenge the legality of the search on the residence.
Leader of the EFCC operatives, Oyedepo, when contacted by our Correspondent, said the Commission would “resolve the matter” and issue a formal statement on the allegation.
“But I want to assure you that nothing like that happened,” Rotimi Oyedepo said.
In its reaction to the claim by the lawyers, the commission yesterday denied the allegations, saying there was no attempt to plant currencies in Ambode’s house.
In a statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren denied the allegations.
The statement reads: The attempt by Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to execute a search warrant on the residence of a former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode was on Tuesday August 20, 2019 resisted by hoodlums loyal to the governor.
“The thugs attacked the Operatives and vandalized their vehicle.
“The Commission had obtained valid warrant to conduct search on Ambode’s residences in Park View, Ikoyi and country home in Epe, as part of ongoing investigation of alleged malfeasance.
“However, the Commission’s operatives were attacked and prevented from executing the search warrant in Epe by irate youths who injured three officers and damaged EFCC official vehicle.
“The attack was totally unprovoked as the Commission’s operatives were civic and did not molest anybody.
“The Commission, therefore, frowns at the attempt to manipulate the video of the search to create the wrong impression that officers of the agency molested residents at the Epe home of the governor.
“It is also not true that the search, was an attempt to plant foreign currencies in the home of the former governor.”
Meanwhile, the attempt by Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to execute a search warrant on the residence of a former Governor of Lagos State, AkinwunmiAmbode was yesterday, August 20, 2019, resisted by hoodlums loyal to the governor.
The Head, Media, and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement revealed that the thugs attacked the Operatives and vandalized their vehicle.
“The Commission had obtained a valid warrant to conduct a search on Ambode’s residences in Park View, Ikoyi and country home in Epe, as part of an ongoing investigation of alleged malfeasance.
Buhari Bars Ministers From Direct Contact With Him …As Ministers Take Oath, Today
With the end of the two-day retreat hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, the President is now set to inaugurate his cabinet, today.
The 43 ministers-designate were recently screened and confirmed by the Dr Ahmed Lawan-led Ninth Senate.
The ministers include, Hon Uche Oga (Abia), Dr Chris Ngige and Mrs Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra), Dr Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi),Mr Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu),Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba (Imo) and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
Others are Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Sunday Dare, Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Pauline Tallen (Plateau), Adamu Adamu, among others.
In his closing remarks at the two-day Presidential Retreat for the incoming ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Buhari told the new cabinet members to be conscious of the fact that four years was not a long time.
He told the incoming ministers to submit any request meant for him to his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari and all executive matters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
The President also charged the ministers-designate who are expected to be inaugurated, today, to work collaboratively and purposefully so as to achieve quicker results.
He told the new ministers to make sure that they engage and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet.
According to him, “In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Public service is not easy work, and at times it can be thankless. I am therefore charging you all to see this opportunity to serve as an honour, to give your best to deliver on this mandate, for a more prosperous Nigeria, not for some, but for all Nigerians.
“You will find that working collaboratively and purposefully will enable us to achieve quicker results, recognizing that four years is not a very long time.
“For the new ministers, make sure you engage and benefit from the experience of the older ministers and former governors in the cabinet. After two days, we have come to the end of a successful retreat. However, you will agree that our work is just beginning.”
The President said that the last two days of the retreat had been very instructive for him personally, because he had had the opportunity to know many of the new ministers-designate better.
He further said that he was pleased to see that they have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before them over the next four years.
He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life. A Nigeria in which they do not have to worry about what they will eat, where they will live or if they can afford to pay for their children’s education or healthcare.
“Our responsibility as leaders of this great country is to meet these basic needs for our people. As I mentioned yesterday, this administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors to mention a few: “A country in which 18 local governments in the Northeast were under the control of Boko Haram; decayed infrastructure in which our rail lines and roads had severely deteriorated; a rent seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports; and significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts. I can go on and on.
“In our first term, we laid the foundation to rebuild our country. We recaptured those 18 local governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets.
“Our investments in road and rail infrastructure are without precedent, and many of you can attest to this. We also focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization. Despite reduced revenues from oil and gas compared to past governments, we have broadly addressed many of the legacy debts they left behind.”
He said while the government has obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead as observed within the two days of the exercise were significant.
But he said, “Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well researched and have been well articulated.
“We have discussed solutions relating to addressing Insecurity; Macroeconomic Stability; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy Security for Petroleum products and Electricity; Transportation and Critical Infrastructure; Industrialization and SME Development; Human Capital Development; Social Inclusion; Anti-Corruption; Housing Financing and Consumer Credit.”
Buhari commended the Office of the SGF for coordinating the successful Presidential Retreat, adding, “I would also like to thank the National Assembly leadership, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the Governors Forum, and resource firms, for the active engagements and contributions.
“Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all.”
Presenting what he described as the summary of the retreat and key next steps, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the incoming cabinet members had spent the past two days agreeing to and prioritizing the key strategic initiatives required to drive accelerated economic growth in the country as well as the critical enablers required for seamless execution.
He also said that it was also agreed on the appropriate Key Performance Indicators, KPls and measures of success for each initiative.
He said, “Some of the agreements from our deliberations include: Consolidate and accelerate on the agricultural agenda to achieve full food sufficiency Increase revenue, implement measures to reduce leakages and drive cost optimisation. Ensure effective coordination between monetary and fiscal policy.
“Invest in human capital development with strong focus on early education and health insurance; facilitate investment in oil and gas sector by ensuring speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and Deep Offshore Oil and Exploration and Production Bill; and resolve the liquidity challenge in power sector and facilitate private sector investment.
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